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Reno Ice Raiders moving to Reno, giving area first pro hockey team in 23 years

Reno Ice Raiders
The{ }Reno Ice Raiders are planning on playing in Reno starting this fall. (Reno Ice Raiders)

A semi-pro ice hockey team is planning on relocating to Reno this fall.

The NorCal Ice Raiders, a semipro Senior A team that plays in the Mountain West Hockey League, announced Thursday it is moving to Northern Nevada and will be renamed the Reno Ice Raiders. It will play games at the new Jennifer M. O'Neal Community Ice Arena (known as Reno Ice), which opened in January.

Reno hasn't had a professional ice hockey team since the Reno Renegades/Reno Rage played in the WCHL from 1995-98, giving Northern Nevada its first pro hockey team in 23 years.

While this isn't one of the top pro leagues in the United States like the AHL (akin to Triple-A) or ECHL (akin to Double-A), the Reno Ice Raiders are a member of the Mountain West Hockey League, a Senior A minor league based in the Western U.S. that was founded in Las Vegas in 2012. It is a full-checking league and is designed for unsigned college and junior-hockey players to showcase their skills to potentially advance to the upper-level pro minor leagues.

The NorCal Ice Raiders were based in Vacaville, Calif., outside of Sacramento the last five seasons. It won the 2017 and 2019 MWHL titles. No season was held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The nine-team league currently includes two teams from Nevada (the other is in Summerlin), three from California, two from Texas and one each from Colorado and Utah.

The season typically runs from November-March and includes a 20-game league schedule that also includes non-league contests. The league awards a trophy and banner to the club with the best regular-season record. Four teams advance to the MWHL Cup Championship playoff tournament.

Among the players listed on the current roster is Reed High alum Mickey Lang, who was the 2013-14 ECHL MVP after scoring 45 games in 66 goals. He briefly signed a contract with an AHL team but never played with that club.

While a schedule has not been set, the team could play an exhibition game as soon as next month.

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